My grandmother and I haven't had what you would call a healthy relationship in about... oh... 14 years, ever since my parents got divorced. My grandmother hated my father and spent several years brainwashing me into thinking he was a disgusting human being and that I shouldn't ever talk to him or have a relationship with him or anything. Being a pretty confused 11 year old kid, I guess I bought into it; I mean, my father did move out, was living with another woman... a case could be made that he abandoned his family.
It took my father and I a long time to start talking and be friends after that. And when I started to realize that my father wasn't a horrible man, that he was fucked up just like everybody else, and that I had really missed out on having a dad for possibly the most important years of a pre-pubescent boy's life, I started getting really pissed off. At my grandmother.
My mom, even though she was bitter about the divorce, understood why I was so angry with my grandmother [heretofore referred to as "gm"]; I mean, my gm had driven my mom crazy too... She (mom) would've liked it if I was able to get over it, but never chastised me about how I felt.
And my gm would really just make it worse, because instead of reaching out to me, she'd give me HEAPS of money. As if to buy my love back. Being broke for the last 10 years, that money came in handy. But I always felt terrible taking it.
Anyway. About a month ago my grandmother, who's been living in the same apartment for 50 years with my uncle (who's been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic - a lot more about him later), fell down and broke her hip. She hadn't been doing too well for the last few years, but she hadn't hurt herself as seriously as this. My mom freaked out and put her in a care facility up near her house...
I of course was only hearing about this from my mom; I didn't really know how to talk to my grandmother about what was happening to her. My mom was initially concerned as to how my gm would react to such a drastically different environment; I mean, she didn't have any friends and the only person she would see every day was my crazy uncle. But my gm kinda hung in there. My mom had called her the day after she moved in and found out, through a nurse, that she was sitting in the living room singing songs with the other old ladies. (My mom and I had the same reaction: WHAT? My gm is not the kind of woman who would sing songs to herself, let alone with totally random people.) As the week progressed, my gm would report to my mom that while it was weird and hard to make friends ("because you can't make friends with people who can't hear"), she was grateful that she had such good care and was going to attempt to make the best of it.
Throughout this whole thing my mom would call me and say, "You know, you really should call grandma." And I'd say, "I know, I know, I will." And I did honestly mean it. I hated her for a long time, true, but even the hardest of hearts has to soften up a little when your grandmother is suddenly in a home that isn't hers and is pretty much just waiting for death.
So I did.
And that wasn't my grandmother on the other line. I mean, she knew who I was (even if she had trouble calling me by my name), but she couldn't complete a sentence. She'd have a thought and lose it pretty much immediately. It was sort of like Alzheimer's, except she knew she was forgetting everything and sounding incoherent, which made it worse. My father's mother had Alzheimer's for the last few years of her life, and we'd have conversations like this:
Her: So, Jonathan -
Me: Jeremy, Gram.
Her: Jeremy - what grade are you in now?
Me: Actually, Gram, I'm a sophomore at NYU now.
Her: Oh that's just wonderful.
(5 minute pause)
Her: So, Jonathan -
etc. etc. My dad and I kinda laughed about it, and my gram had a good enough sense of humor to know we still loved her and didn't hold anything against her, even if she wasn't quite sure who we were.
This was a lot different. She sounded absolutely terrible, and she knew it.
My mom is freaking out again, now, b/c she spoke to her too and knows that something is off. Something isn't right. And it's probably pretty bad, this time. My grandmother can sometimes attempt to manipulate us towards pity, but she's not a good enough actress to try and pretend like she has Alzheimer's.
And I really don't know what to feel. I feel really bad for my mom, who's doing everything she can to fix whatever's wrong. Meanwhile my uncle is probably losing his shit, and because he has no contact with the outside world anymore, I don't know how able he is to deal with it. Family is totally fucked up.
"Feeling Yourself Disintegrate" is an amazing song. My friend and I went to see the Lips play maybe 2 years ago at Tramps... they weren't quite as good as they should've been (mostly b/c they were touring without a live drummer, which is totally insane, but also because Cornelius had just totally destroyed us). But this song is amazing, regardless.
I'm probably gonna get some lunch. Yeah.